Thursday, December 22, 2011

Today's News Thu. December 22, 2011

Local News Thu. December 22, 2011

Commissioners Pass 2012 Budget With No Tax Increase

At their Wednesday meeting the Schuylkill County Commissioners approved the budget for 2012. In a statement issued by the Commissioners, they noted that there will not be a tax increase associated with this budget. They credit the hard work and dedication of the row officers and department heads for the positive financial results that have placed Schuylkill County on the solid financial footing it now enjoys. Since 2008, the unreserved county fund balance has increased to a historic high of over eleven million dollars. They also noted that Standard and Poors has upgraded the county's rating from A to A+
, and the principal on bonded debt outstanding is the lowest it has been in over twenty years.

Additional Charges Filed Against St. Clair Teacher

A teacher at the St. Clair Middle School who was arrested on December 7 on charges related to possession and distribution of child pornography now faces a trial in federal court. Todd Evans was arrested by the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation earlier this month, and was sent to Schuylkill County Prison, but he now faces federal charges as well. Evans was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday and, if convicted, could be sentenced to a maximum of twenty years in federal prison, $250,000 in fines, and five years to life of supervised release. His preliminary hearing on the county charges is scheduled for January 12, 2012 before Magisterial District Judge David Plachko of Port Carbon.

Schuylkill Haven Borough Holds Line On Taxes

At their meeting on Wednesday evening, Schuylkill Haven Borough Council gave their final approval to the 2012 budget. There will be no increase in taxes for residents of the borough next year as a result of the new budget. Mayor Gary Hess said his good-byes to those in attendance, and expressed his gratitude to council, employees, and residents for supporting him during his time in office. Hess has resigned his post because he was elected to be a Schuylkill County Commissioner. Council also discussed the formation of the Campus/Community Climate Committee, which will address the relationship between the borough and Penn State Schuylkill Campus. Borough Manager Scott Graver, Councilman Roger Spotts, and attorney Mark Semanchik were named to the committee, and they are looking for others from the community to join them.

Schuylkill Mall Will Be Home To Dunham's Sports Store

The Schuylkill Mall and Dunham's Sports have announced that Dunham's will be opening a retail location at the mall sometime next year. Dunham's has over 160 stores, and 23 of them are located in Pennsylvania. They will occupy the site where Black Diamond Antiques is currently located. Black Diamond will relocate to the former Steve and Barry's store, which was vacated in 2009. Schuylkill Mall Manager Elaine Maneval said this is good news for the mall, which recently lost the Payless Shoe store.

Salvation Army Will Have Winter Coats For Those In Need

Thanks to the generosity of the members of the Schuylkill County Bar Association, many residents who are down on their luck will be able to pick up a winter coat. According to a story in today's Republican Herald, the coats will be available at the Salvation Army headquarters located at 400 Sanderson Street in Pottsville between noon and 1:00p.m. on Friday. The Bar Association has teamed with the Salvation Army each year since 2008 in an effort to help those in need, and they have donated over a thousand coats so far. Those wishing to pick up coats need not register, and sizes will be available for adults and children.

House Passes Bill To Boost Anthracite Industry

The Pennsylvania house of Representatives has passed HB 1813, written by Rep. Mike Tobash of the 125th District, that would ease bonding regulations for anthracite coal miners. The bill would allow mine operators to free up money that could be used to reinvest in their operations. That could include re-mining closed sites, which would then be reclaimed. The bill has the support of the Pennsylvania Anthracite Council, the Pennsylvania Coal Association, and environmental groups like the Schuylkill Conservation District. Rep. Tobash stated in a press release that this bill would provide a "golden opportunity right here in our own back yard because the worldwide demand for anthracite coal is at its highest level in years." The bill passed the House by a vote of 193 to 1, and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

State and National News Thu. December 22, 2011

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court says juries will have to rule when a defendant in a death penalty case wants to argue he or she is mentally disabled and therefore ineligible for execution. The high court has upheld the death penalty for Abraham Sanchez Jr. He was convicted of the 2007 random shooting death of businessman Ray Diener in Elizabethtown.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - New federal pollution standards targeting the nation's dirtiest power plants may help lead to the shutdown of some coal-fired plants in Pennsylvania, although it's not yet clear how many. The Harrisburg-based Electric Power Generation Association says low natural gas prices and high coal prices could also contribute.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Officials are trying to find out who gave birth to a newborn girl who was found inside a cardboard box on a north Philadelphia sidewalk. Police say the child found yesterday was in good condition after she was rushed to a hospital.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Three Philadelphia police officers have been injured, one critically, in a crash in north Philadelphia. A police spokeswoman says the officers' car was hit at an intersection in the Logan section of the city yesterday afternoon.

BAGHDAD (AP) - The worst violence to hit Baghdad in months has killed dozens of people and injured scores more. The bombings targeted neighborhoods around the city in an apparently coordinated campaign of violence designed to wreak havoc.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Turkey's Foreign Ministry says President Bashar Assad's regime is turning Syria into a "bloodbath." The ministry strongly condemns the continued attacks against civilians despite an agreement with the Arab League to halt the bloodshed. It says the attacks raise doubts about Syria's "true intentions."

WESTERVILLE, Ohio (AP) - Some fire officials are questioning the safety of a type of flexible metal tubing used for gas lines in homes across the United States. Fire officials, researchers and manufacturers are investigating concerns that the corrugated stainless steel tubing, made of thin metal coated in plastic, is susceptible to leaks caused by lightning strikes.

NEW YORK (AP) - Eight soldiers face charges ranging from maltreatment to involuntary manslaughter in the death of
19-year-old Army Pvt. Daniel Chen of New York City. The Pentagon says it has transferred the soldiers to another base in Afghanistan amid allegations that they mistreated Chen shortly before he committed suicide.

DENVER (AP) - People trying to track the jolly old elf's annual journey have an app for that this year. Volunteer Santa-trackers at NORAD are also bracing for tens of thousands of calls and emails on Christmas Eve. NORAD Tracks Santa already has more than 754,000 "likes" on Facebook this year, and 60,000 Twitter followers. A new smart phone Santa-tracker app is also available.


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